Allergies are the 6th leading cause of illness in the U.S. and affect more than 17 million adults, but are they disabling? If you have developed allergies that are keeping you from being gainfully employed, this is what you should know about filing for Social Security disability for the condition.
The symptoms or conditions you experience in relation to your allergies are important.
Social Security doesn't recognize allergies as disabling all on their own, but they do recognize the conditions that allergies can bring on as disabling. For example, many people who develop allergies also develop other chronic conditions that are aggravated by the allergies—like asthma or severe skin reactions.
Asthma causes your airways to tighten in response to irritants, and you can end up with chronic problems due to fluid build-up in your lungs. If your allergies are causing chronic asthma attacks, you want to make sure that you let Social Security know that they are aggravating a potentially life-threatening breathing disorder. Similarly, some people with severe allergies develop a type of dermatitis that causes severe skin lesions. If your skin condition is severe and continues for at least 3 months despite treatment, Social Security does consider that a disability.
Your inability to work outside of a protected environment can be considered disabling.
Another thing that Social Security will consider is your ability to work outside of a protected environment. Some people develop a wide array of allergies over time, with reactions that can range from mild irritation to full-blown anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening condition that halts your breathing.
This makes what you are allergic to very important—the more common the allergen is, the harder it will be for you to find employment in an environment that's reasonably safe for you. For example, if you have an anaphylactic reaction to latex, you can't be expected to work in any sort of job that would expose you to rubber. That rules out many factory jobs since rubber is used in a lot of manufacturing processes.
Make sure that you tell Social Security specifically what you are allergic to, especially if your reaction to certain allergens is severe.
Your inability to work at your previous occupation and age may be significant factors.
The older you are, the less Social Security expects you to be able to adjust to a different job. If you've worked most of your life in one occupation, and your allergies are now preventing you from continuing in that occupation, that's an important consideration. For most people, age starts to become a significant factor for the purposes of a Social Security disability determination once you turn 50. The expectation that you can adjust to a different job continues to decrease as you get older.
This is particularly important if you've developed an allergy to something your occupation exposes you to on a regular basis. For example, if you've worked as a veterinary technician for 30 years, developing a severe allergic reaction to animal dander would devastate your ability to continue in your field.
Don't assume that you can't qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on your allergies. Even if you've been denied before, you may qualify once the information about your condition and its effects is completely presented to Social Security. Consider talking to an attorney like Bruce K Billman who specializes in disability claims for more assistance.